I want to build a house on a rustic finca in Mallorca

Lawyers who work in real estate law have heard this sentence many times and the first thing that comes to mind is: please, get in touch with a lawyer to guide you through the process.

You might think that to build a rustic property you only need a plot of land with the minimum surface area and then you are covered. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In this article I will try in a very general way (please, after reading the article you still need a lawyer) to draw your attention to the most important points to consider when looking for a rustic property with the purpose of building a house.

FIRST.- MINIMUM AREA: I already alluded to this first requirement in the introduction. It is the most obvious and it is necessary to know first which type of rustic land our dream property belongs, to determine the necessary square meters.

  • Common rustic land: 14.000 m2
  • Rustic land in Special Protection Areas: 50.000 m2
    • Areas considered of Landscape Interest
    • Rural land of General Forest Character
    • All areas of Territorial Protecion (called APT)
    • All areas considered Natural of Special Interest (abbreviated ANEI)
    • The natural areas that have the qualification of High Leve lof Protection (or AANP)
    • Growth Transition Areas (AT-C)
    • Areas that are considered Rural and of Forest Landscape Interest (ARIP-B)
    • Risk Prevention Areas (SRP-APR)

There are constant rumors about the imminent change of legislation that will increase the minimum area, although there seems to be a lack of consensus and for the time being the areas remain as indicated.

SECOND.- DATE ON WHICH THE “FINCA” WE WANT TO BUILD ON WAS DIVIDED: This requirement can cause unpleasant surprises as to know it, we must first obtain a registry certification (with a nota simple in most cases we will not be able to verify this information).

Let us imagine that we buy a rustic property which is on “suelo rustico común” (common rustic land)  and which has a surface of 16,000m2.  This “finca” came from a much larger” finca”  that belonged to two friends and in 2015 they decided to segregate it and create two “fincas”, one for each one of them. 

This property, coming from a segregation after 16/7/1997, becomes unbuildable. There is nothing you can do to change this situation.

  1. Plots divided before 16/07/1997: No limitation applies to building. Any property that came from a segregation before this date and that has the minimum surface and other requirements can be built on. 
  2. Plots divided between 16/07/19997 and 13/10/1999: The construction of a single-family house is allowed in these cases if the property  does not come from a segregation in which the total number of subdivisions exceeds five, counting of course the main property. 
  3. Plots divided after 13/10/1999: The construction of houses is totally prohibited unless the plots come from the first division of a first plot that was donated or inherited in such a way that it was passed on from parents to children. This rule is also limited, and each child can only dispose of one plot.

THIRD.- HOW MUCH CAN I BUILD: Recently (25/5/2020) the regulations have changed and are now more restrictive. 

With the previous regulation in common rustic land the maximum buildable area was 3%. Now it is only allowed to build a maximum of 1.5% of the surface area. Similarly, there has been an important change in the maximum permitted volume, which has been reduced to a maximum of 900 m3 in any type of rustic land (until 2020 it was 1,500m3).

No more than one swimming pool may be built per property, with a water surface area of no more than 35 m² and a volume of no more than 60 m³.

FOURTH.- MUNICIPAL REGULATIONS: In addition to the above, Planes Generales de Ordenación Urbano (PGOU or the Normas Subsidiarias (NNSS) of the municipality in which the plot is located must be respected, as these regulations may add additional regulations to those we have indicated. 

By way of example, among millions of possible examples, as in Mallorca there are 53 municipalities with their different regulations, in Sóller, plots segregated after 30th September 1994 which are in an ARIP zona de “interes paisajistico”, the minimum plot size will not be 50.000m2 but 100.000m2 as this is established in the PGOU of that municipality. 

As mentioned at the beginning, this article deals with urban planning regulations in a general and very schematic way. There are many more regulations that must be considered, such as the slope of the land or the fact that there is a torrent on the property that nobody has ever noticed, but it appears as such on a water resources plan and therefore cannot be built on.

The aim of this article is not to teach urban planning law, but to make it clear that the acquisition of a rural property for the purpose of building a house is not something that a layman can do without making serious mistakes.  It is therefore very important that you seek advice from both a lawyer and an architect and that, before signing the deed of sale, you know exactly what you will be able to build on the land and whether it is in accordance with your initial idea in order to avoid unpleasant surprises


Marian Roig Reynés

Marian Roig Reynés

Civil law, Real Estate law & Development
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